Mural at UP calling for end to street harassment defaced with graffiti

April 4, 2019 - 8:11 PM
A screenshot of a post by Graffiti Philippines as of April 4, 2019. (Instagram/graffiti_philippines)

A mural created by artists and youth leaders as a form of movement to make public places safer for women was defaced, prompting condemnation from some social media users who found the act “disrespectful.”

Three non-profit organizations launched an initiative called “Taking Back Spaces” where they make mural paintings and hold street art activities to call for a stop on catcalling and street harassment.

Youth Against Sexual Harassment, Dakila and Active Vista collaborated in the mural, along with the help of artist Venazir Martinez and the UP Sigma Alpha Nu Sorority.

The first mural was created in the graffiti wall along C.P. Garcia Avenue, located outside GT Toyota-Asian Cultural Center in the University of the Philippines-Diliman.

The mural featured phrases that condemned sexual harassment, particularly in the streets. It also featured various women representing different sectors, from students to old women.

However, barely a week after it was created, the mural was defaced with graffiti spelling out “ODER.”

It was eventually covered with a huge white phrase that said “RESPECT WOMEN” but was once again vandalized when someone covered “women” with “EACH ODER” instead.

The defacement angered some social media users, particularly those who strongly supported the movement.

A Twitter user called it a form of “invalidation” to the advocacy since it intentionally vandalized the mural. She noted that such actions “says a lot about our society.”

The user added that the defacement is a huge disrespect to the creators of the mural and to actual victims of street harassment.

“‘Yung akin lang, sobrang nakakabastos nito ‘di lang sa mga gumawa ng mural pero para na rin sa mga biktima ng SH (street harassment),” she said.

Other Twitter users attempted to trace the one who they claimed defaced the mural. They stumbled upon an Instagram post that was shared by what appeared to be a community of graffiti artists.

A screenshot of a post by Graffiti Philippines as of April 4, 2019. (Instagram/graffiti_philippines)

It is not certain, however, whether the community was the one who actually defaced the mural painting by the progressive organizations or not.

A similar initiative against street harassment was also done with the support of Akbayan Youth along one of the jeepney terminals in Quiapo, Manila.

The phrase “No dress code for rape” was featured in a wall painted with red.

Both of the initiatives were done to cap off the National Women’s Month celebrated in March as part of the worldwide observance of the International Women’s Month.

It was established to recognize the achievements of women throughout history and across nations without regard to divisions— whether it be national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.

International Women’s Month is also a universal call for the complete recognition of gender equality where men and women are given equal opportunities in all aspects.